The U. S. Army Type III Service Shoe was accepted by the Quartermaster Corps in June 1943 under Boston Quartermaster Depot Specification 110. This new shoe was manufactured from leather uppers with the flesh side of the animal, in this case cowhide, reversed, hence one of the nicknames for these shoes being “roughouts” since the rough, fleshy portion of the leather skin was on the outside, and the smooth, finished portion was on the inside (not to be confused with the similar shoes already on issue to the USN and USMC prior to 1943). Authorized and intended strictly for use in the field to be worn in conjunction with the M-38 Dismounted Troops canvas lace-up leggings; the reversed flesh-out leather required no polishing and would not look all that unsoldierly if scuffed and soiled vs. the Types I & II Service Shoes made of smooth finished leather that had been in use for field, garrison and service dress use up until the point when combat troops began receiving the first Type III Service Shoes in 1943.
Once the Type III Service Shoes materialized in sufficient quantities, which wasn’t until 1944, the older Types I and II Service Shoes were rarely worn in the field and were relegated then for garrison or service dress only. The Type III Service Shoes featured a heel and full sole manufactured from composite or reclaimed rubber (recycled from auto/truck tires, etc., due to the shortage of rubber during the war), steel shank for strong arch support and better retention of shoe shape, leather uppers made from hides that were chrome tanned with a heavy vegetable re-tanning, no toe box or toe cap as found on Types I and II Service Shoes, and the quarter was attached to the vamp with a reinforcing rivet in addition to four rows of heavy stitching; the rivet was deleted from all subsequent Type III Service Shoe production in the summer of 1944. The heels were hand nailed to the rubber soles and the soles were sewn and also hand nailed at key stress areas. Welting leather was specified to be of an extremely high quality that would join the shoe to the sole via the famous Goodyear welting system, which is considered the finest welting system ever devised. The Type III Service Shoes were, upon issue to the troops, usually dubbed or rubbed down with a waterproofing grease that darkened them substantially.
Type III's had a relatively short production life, lasting approximately 18 months before they were fully phased out in favor of the Combat Boots that were produced simultaneously with the Type III's for quite some time. During the period of issue of the Type III's, it was not at all uncommon to see them worn without the M-38 Dismounted Troops Canvas Leggings; this was particularly a practice in the Pacific theater and among personnel of the USAAF whose duties did not require the wearing of leggings.
Due to the rugged construction, great comfort, overall smart looks and relatively cheap and ready supply, Type III Service Shoes were part of a substantial post-war consumer market where the shoes were widely sold for work wear, hunting, fishing, and other casual outdoor activities. However, the shoes achieved iconic status largely via their appearance in the all-time-classic WWII PoW adventure film drama made in 1963, "The Great Escape," as worn by the "King of Cool" himself, legendary actor Steve Mc Queen in his leading role as the charismatic, wisecracking, cocky USAAF fighter pilot Virgil Hilts. Hilts sported Army khaki trousers worn with a cut-down sweatshirt and vintage A-2 leather aviator's jacket all the while therapeutically bouncing a baseball off the concrete walls of the "cooler" into his baseball-mitted hand in between persistent schemes to break out of the prison camp, only to repeat the process again upon recapture. It was this film and Mc Queen’s “Hilts” character that fueled enormous interest again in the Type III Service Shoes that reached fanatical proportions in Japan.
This fanatical interest is what largely instigated Buzz Rickson’s to begin production of the Type III Service Shoes to the same pedigree of quality and depth of detail encountered on the vintage shoes from WWII. Years later, the Type III Service Shoes began to be reproduced by a variety of companies in the USA, the manufacture of which was almost entirely farmed out to low-end factories in developing nations and the market for which these shoes were made remains almost exclusively dominated by those performing various forms of WWII historical presentations, performances and/or re-enactments. Such shoes produced and sold at far lower price points than those made in Japan are intended to merely resemble the original Type III Service Shoves, whereas the Buzz Rickson’s Japanese-made examples are stitch-for-stitch masterful works of beauty and quality intended to perform to the same rugged standards as did the vintage shoes that won WWII, thus the premium-grade leather uppers can soldier on for years and years with new Lite Tread rubber hitting the ground, thanks to the complete re-soling services available from the factory. This is how quality footwear used to be in the USA back before the era of cheap disposability permeated society. All Buzz Rickson’s Type III Service Shoe production follows the same concept as employed by the U. S. Army Quartermaster Corps in the 1940's – make ‘em to last, make ‘em to be repaired, make ‘em for the duration!
Just as featured in Esquire magazine, Buzz Rickson’s Type III Service Shoes are produced exactly as the GI shoes were produced by legendary footwear manufacturers in the USA that have long since vanished: The uppers are manufactured from a beefy, chrome-tanned cowhide leather that is then vegetable tanned for no less than 12 weeks, after which the leather is sewn and hand lasted over a period of days to ensure maximum stretch and flexibility to the finished shoe, and finally the lasted uppers are sewn using the famous Goodyear storm welt to premium-grade welting leather - NEVER are soles vulcanized to the uppers or sewn in some cheap manner to duplicate the appearance of a true Goodyear welt at a sacrifice to comfort, quality and durability. The Buzz Rickson’s Type IIIs also feature precise custom-made copies of the famous 1940's Lite Tread rubber heels and soles, with the soles having the rare “chain” pattern that was produced but for short time during WWII and is the rarest tread pattern employed in the production of rubber soles for the military at that time. Today, no other Type III Service Shoes available in the USA offer the Lite Tread soles and heels.
These are classic pieces of rugged, smart-looking, comfortable footwear that never go out of style, whether worn with jeans, khaki’s or hiking shorts. Please take note of these high-quality features found on Buzz Rickson’s Type III Service Shoes:
• Size and U. S. Army inspector markings embossed in the leather foot bed as per the vintage exam
• Authentic U. S. Army BQD contract and spec. markings ink stamped onto the inside quarters of each shoe precisely matching the style and placement as found on the vintage examplle
• Authentic size marking ink stamped to the rubber soles as was often done during WWII to better enable easier, rapid identification of shoe size when storing or issuing the shoes by the quartermaster • Uppers sewn with authentic off-white thread
• Premium-grade, flesh-out leather uppers, chrome tanned, then vegetable tanned for greater durability and better fit when lasted and worn
• Premium-grade, veg-tanned leather welting attached using the Goodyear welting system with heavy-duty corded thread
• Quadruple-stitched quarters for durability as per the original spec. then bolstered by a reinforcing rivet as found on the early Type IIIs
• Custom-made all-cotton shoe laces that are heavily waxed for greater service life and moisture repellence, as per many of the WWII military shoe laces
• Hand-lasted uppers for better fit and comfort • Heavy, non-corrosive steel shank for heavy-duty support and longer shoe life and shape maintenance
• Custom-made precision copies of the famous Lite Tread rubber soles and heels from WWII; soles are sewn via the Goodyear welting system employed to make the shoes during WWII, then heels are nailed in place by hand and soles are reinforced with nails at key stress points, precisely matching the original spec.
• Premium-grade, veg-tanned leather insoles for better breathing of feet and moisture absorption. Current fittings available as measured on a Brannock device (this is the sizing instrument used to determine shoe size found in all true shoe stores): U. S. A. men’s sizes 8, 8 1/2, 9, 9 1/2, 10 & 10 1/2. If you plan on wearing a heavy rubber insole or prefer a looser fit, then the available size range will be smaller than indicated here.
Buzz Rickson’s goods are imported from Japan